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American consumers continue to struggle with high prices

American consumers continue to struggle with high prices


American consumers continue to struggle with high prices

NEW YORK — Americans paused their spending in April from March as inflation continued to sting and elevated interest rates made taking on debt more burdensome.

Retail sales were unchanged, coming in well below economists' expectations, and follow a revised 0.6% pace in March, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. Sales rose 0.9% in February. That comes after sales fell 1.1% in January, dragged down in part by inclement weather.

Excluding gas prices and auto sales, retail sales fell 0.1%

Retail sales were also dragged down by a 1.2% drop in online business, reflecting a new sales event at Amazon and the earlier timing of Easter this year, according to Michael Pearce, deputy chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. Business at electronics stores was up 1.5%. Sales at home furnishings stores slipped 0.5%. Sales at clothing and accessories stores posted a 1.6% gain.

The retail sales figure came out on the same day that the government issued its report on consumer inflation, which showed it cooled slightly last month after three elevated readings.

There have been some hints that the Federal Reserve’s campaign to cool inflation by reining in spending may be taking hold. Employers pulled back on hiring in April adding just 175,000, down sharply from the surprisingly strong 315,000 hires in March.